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00000179-cdc6-d978-adfd-cfc6d7d40002Coverage of the issues, races and people shaping Kansas elections in 2016, including statewide coverage in partnership with KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, and High Plains Public Radio.

Kansas Lawmakers Meet To Elect New Leadership

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J. Schafer
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KPR/File photo

Kansas voters want change for the 2017 session: They made that clear by replacing a couple dozen conservative Republican legislators with Democrats and more moderate Republicans. The newly elected lawmakers gather today to select their leadership.

The leadership selections will be an early indication of how much the balance of power has really changed in the Statehouse.

For speaker of the House, the race is between a moderate -- Republican Russ Jennings from Lakin in southwest Kansas -- and two conservatives -- Ron Ryckman Jr. of Olathe, and Jene Vickery of Louisburg.

The incumbent Senate President, Susan Wagle, is facing a challenge from the right in current Ways & Means Chairman Ty Masterson. Both are from the Wichita area.

Whoever is chosen for those top posts will make the committee assignments that will drive legislation to address the state's tax policy, school funding, and the looming budget deficit.